KTM 690 OWNER REVIEW, KNOWN ISSUES & PROBLEMS

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by B1, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. B1

    B1 Carbon-based bipedal

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    For a few years, the KTM 690R was my dream bike, then I finally scraped together the cash to buy a secondhand one and just sold it two months later. I know a lot of guys are happy with their Katos but I also know a substantial number of us are disappointed too. Most of the reviews don't reflect the negative comments so figured I would fill the void. :)

    NOTE: If you might buy a 690 read all the comments from others about their mods and thoughts on these bikes too.



    The KTM 690 definitely has its fans and I can see why - over 60 horsepower at the rear wheel (when derestricted) is very addictive for the speed jockeys but I had trouble seeing past quite a few issues.

    If found the 690 had a close ratio gearbox compared to similar bike in its class. First gear feels too high for dirt work, while it seems to be revving higher than needed on the highway. I found persistent false neutrals between fourth, fifth and six gears. It's a commonly reported issue that some guys say disappears after a good run in... not so with my bike.

    In stock trim, my KTM 690 was unbearably twitchy and jerky at low revs, and very prone to stalling. There are probably more up to date fixes now, but the solution back then was a remap and aftermarket exhaust. Most KTM models run fine in standard trim and with its price tag I think it's a shame the 690 doesn't at least run properly until modified... at least those of us who like to use the low revs. Apparently the Husqvarna 701 has a completely new engine for 2017, I hope it runs better and is more reliable.

    The KTM 690R pipe is a shocker; it weighs a ton and the catalytic converter means it runs so hot it melts the plastic sidecover - a terrible design that is only good for frying eggs. Apparently the Husqvarna 701 has a different exhaust, hopefully it's a better design.

    For taller riders the footpegs are too high and you may find yourself in a jockey-style position and some find the bars too low as well although that's an easy fix on both the KTM 690R and the Husqvarna 701. While the ergos suit shorter riders, the tall seat height works against them though. The seat is pure dirt bike and you'll want something more comfortable for dual sport and adventure riding.

    The suspension on mine was brutally harsh. It seemed fine on the road but only started to work reasonably well with extremely aggressive riding. I'm not sure if this has been fixed on recent models, but a quick google around suggests this was still a common complaint up to the 2013 models at least.

    Plenty of 690 owners report trouble-free riding, but reliability is a well known problem for others. Google around for a list, but common problems are fuel pumps, rocker arm bearings, electrics, injectors and the wiring loom. This has deterred some from using the 690 as an adventure bike, while others say you just need to carry the relevant spare parts, know the problems and fixes, and do maintenance checks before adventure rides with both the KTM 690R and the Husqvarna 701.

    What is the KTM 690R meant to be? They call it an enduro model but it's far too heavy and lacks a good turning circle. It takes a lot of mods to turn it into an adventure bike but the reliability issues can be a problem. Is it just a wheel spinning kick arse dual sport bike? Many use it that way and love the bike. All I know is it's a bike that polarises riders... at a rough guess I'd say two out of three riders like the 690 and the rest don't - I'm one of the latter riders obviously. Usually KTM work hard to improve their bikes but the 690 appears to have been left in the too-hard basket. I'm keen to see the rebadged Husqvarna 701 version for 2017 can resolve the identity crisis and get the bike fully sorted. :)
    #1
  2. El Ponkin

    El Ponkin Bloodrunner

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    Yep pretty accurate critique can't argue with any of that.
    #2
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  3. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    690 hasn't been a priority for ktm since they killed te630 they haven't had any real competition. I suppose things may change when ajp pr7, CCM GP600 and SWM RS650 and SuperDual hit the market.

    RS650 is already in Australia, have you checked it? Seems to be more average Joe friendly and cheaper too, cheaper than te630 which it basically is.

    Sent from my K01A using Tapatalk
    #3
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  4. 0405canvet

    0405canvet Been here awhile

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    What?? Andy, Barry loves to argue! What is your point Barry?? Rosie and I love the 690 standard! Well R has an Acro but otherwise you can ride the bike without having to do mods! I am only slightly smaller than you and found the bike, while not a Trials bike, still not a problem in technical riding. The 690 is really set up to SM more than DS really but is still a great ride!
    #4
  5. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    None of those bikes compare to the 690/701.
    #5
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  6. Motomochila

    Motomochila Moto Scientist and time traveler

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    "You can't always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need"

    I'm on my 4th 690 and I love the bike for what I intend to use it for. It's a dirt bike with some street attitude. Eight Baja trips, three Copper Canyon trips, ( one trip was my only failed bike- throttle body failure), two BDR trips, and thousands of miles of single track. I run a 48 rear and all is good. Granted I farkle the sh!t out my bikes, so they fit me perfectly. But as the lyrics imply, not everybody gets everything they want. To each his own....
    #6
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  7. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Ok, I'll bite :-)

    70hp on the rear wheel? Yes please, where do I sign up?
    Close ratio gearbox? Sure, works for the rally - helps to keep the engine on full tilt
    False neutrals is the result of a design choice, unfortunately...
    Twitchy and jerky - hello EFI, EPA and other :lol3
    Silencers with builtin cats are heavy and run hot - not much to do about that.
    Low pegs and high rise bar - check
    Comfy seat? Well, yes... my rear end says the stock 690 seat is about as comfy as the bmw 800gs one :dunno
    Suspension need a revalve for offroad duty
    Rocker arms breaking is annoying for sure, but as for taking care of electric loom, etc., it's no different from any other bike I've owned
    As for weight, depending on which year model 690 you used, a new 701 is +7kg's on that... but that's the price for 1 liter extra fuel, abs, better steering angle and more powerful engine.
    #7
  8. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Dirt bike, street bike, rally bike?

    I'd call it a hooligan bike :-)
    #8
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  9. JH4thgen

    JH4thgen Adventurer

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    I do agree the suspension is made for aggressive riding. The gearbox seems clunky compared to a Japanese mx bike. Mine fits my purpose great 23000 miles. bought a seat & shift improvement kit. I have heard people complain about the tall 1st gear but I don't ever have a problem. I would say I ride tight woods a lot and never have a worry with a 45tooth rear. ergo are perfect for me at 6' tall and I raised the bike 25mm. Custom suspension tuning is really the best money spent on a bike and this one is no different. As to all the reliability for every one post we see there are 12 bikes running around without problems. To each there own....
    #9
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  10. BlackdogADV

    BlackdogADV Long timer

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    I just sold my 2013 690 like 2 days ago. It was my DS bike until I converted it to an Adventure bike. I installed a Safari tank and Touratech hard luggage (among many other things) to prepare for my 17,000 South American trip. I was aware of the rocker issue and installed new ones at the beginning of my trip and used the old ones for spares. I made it to Antofagasta Chile when my exhaust rocker failed. During my trip I was in close contact with Zoe who was on a 690. Her rocker failed in Bolivia about the same time and ended her trip. I was able to repair my bike in a motel parking lot but now I had no spare. I tried to source one but the only one in SA was taken by a German rider that was riding a bike that was under warranty.
    I never experienced the snatchy throttle. I did have the shifting issues but got use to it. The gear ratio never bothered me.
    I was going to turn my bike back to its DS mode but decided to try to sell it as an Adventure since so many modes were done to it.
    If you use this bike for epic Adventure riding you MUST know how change rockers and fuel pumps. Look at all the YouTube videos were trips ended because the owners were too lame to replace a rocker or pump (both are relitivly simple jobs).
    The new owner of my bike is a DS guy and the bike is great for that.
    I replaced my 690 with a 2017 701 of course.
    #10
  11. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Going on an epic adventure without knowing basic maintenance tasks is epic failure in my opinion - regardless of bike choice.
    #11
  12. BlackdogADV

    BlackdogADV Long timer

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    Exactly. I'm amazed how many attempt it without knowing shit.
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  13. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    #13
  14. Motomochila

    Motomochila Moto Scientist and time traveler

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    but does that make me a hooligan?
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  15. timeOday

    timeOday Long timer

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    You aren't just picking on an outgoing model to burnish your reviewer creds, are you :) ?

    KTM seemed to have a hard time deciding whether they're even marketing the 690 any more this year, with it being off their website for a few months and not getting the updated Duke 690 / Husky 701 engine.

    I'm still liking my 640 Adventure. It's turn-of-the-century tech, but they sure got a lot of things right on that one. I have a dirtbike, but I wanted a little-bigger Adventure bike too, and that is what KTM decided not to make any more, so I bought their old one.

    I guess the question at this point is going forward - will the 390 fill the role? I think not, 390cc isn't enough to do so.

    How about the 790 Adventure? They have my attention with that one.

    Otherwise, a built-up 500EXC should do, when they become old and inexpensive enough to replace every 25K miles or so.
    #15
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  16. cbig

    cbig Rift- Raft, SCooter Trash

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    Interesting thread, Barry. You either love em or hate the 690. I recently had a chance to buy a nicely accessorized 690 2009 model, with 634 miles on it. Guy wanted only 4500. Since months before I bought a nice sxc for a cheap price, also low miles (901) I passed, picked it up for a buddy. He rides with me quite a bit. The 690 has had the hesitation largely messaged out of the electronics. Suspension we went thru, little harsh but ok. Clutch issues, battery issues, ground wire faults and an odd coolant hose over flow connector to the cap that leaked. I like it, sort of reminds me of a xr650r, same close ratio, same ability to carry higher gearing, much smoother than my 625 sxc. The seat concepts after market seat is a big improvement. I chose my sxc because of the kick backup, carb is serviceable without electronic tools in remote areas if needed. Dunno how I'd fix the 690 if a complex electrical issue happened in remote areas. His battery died once, that was trouble. Luckily close to home, got a jumper battery.

    I was not happy to hear ktm still has issues with rocker arm bearings on the 690. You'd think they learned their lesson from the earlier LC4 series. Neither KTM seems as durable or built to survive third world conditions as my xr650r. The sxc has a shock linkage hanging down, zirk fitting forward, linkage behind so the shock hits first, and the 690 has the bottom of the engine unprotected, no frame spar. Yeah, you buy a skid plate and hope you never hit something too hard. Possibly they were designed as supermoto and enduro a second consideration.My sxc leaked oil from everywhere it could, the 690 seems better. Nice bike when it's doing what it's supposed to, but I wouldn't take one to Bolivia We r tearing out to Moab, see how this develops..

    IMG_0706.PNG
    #16
  17. El Ponkin

    El Ponkin Bloodrunner

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    The analogy has been given many times before:
    Its like dating a hot chick she is going to be high maintenance, you know it aint going to be easy and it probably won't last but its worth the hassle for the wild ride until she dumps you. Alternatively go for the "not so good looking plump chick, probably ultra reliable, can cook and pander to your every need and you will probably end up living with her forever because its just too easy and comfortable.

    When there is an ultra hot chick available that is ultra reliable, low maintenance and willing to be in a long term relationship I am sure we will all be in the queue.

    Remember it is Adventure Riding it is meant to be exciting and involve at least a bit of the unknown.
    The issues on the 690 are well known and documented, be prepared or ignore them at your peril but ride it and be happy or sell it.
    Andy
    #17
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  18. B1

    B1 Carbon-based bipedal

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    sure i love to argue but not as much as a canadian, you crazy cannuck lol! i guess the point is what i said in the disclaimer... you read the reviews in glossy mags and here how brilliant the bike is and never hear a negative point. and while the majority of 690 owners are extremely happy, there's a sizeable minority who aren't. i just wanted to put out the dissenting opinion for those looking at buying one so they get a nicely rounded perspective on the big pumpkin. :)

    even though i'm a fan of a fully sorted DR650, i still did an entire vid bagging the shit out of suzuki for all the design flaws they refuse to fix. it can't hurt to know the warts of any bike i reckon. :D
    #18
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  19. B1

    B1 Carbon-based bipedal

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    i reckon that nails it well, anders! it's not really my thing but it was amazing to be doing 60mph on a dirt road, crank the throttle and fishtail up to some ridiculous speed in a matter of seconds.

    but i would be stoked if husqvarna reinvented the FE570 to replace the 690.... bigger tank, comfy seat, more oil capacity, cush drive hub, stronger rear subframe, more durable countershaft, maybe even bore or stroke it to a 630 and detune it a little. i reckon there would be long queues for that beast.
    or just bring back the XR650R with a button. :y0!
    #19
  20. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    I dare not answer :lol3
    #20